Object of the Week: Mary, Queen of Scots' final letter - "I am to be executed like a criminal"

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 August 2016

On February 8 1587, at 2am on the morning of her execution, Mary, Queen of Scotland, wrote to her former brother-in-law

A photo of the handwritten final letter of mary, queen of scots written in 1587
Mary's final signature© NLS
She had, she confessed, “thrown myself into the power of the Queen my cousin, at whose hands I have suffered for almost 20 years.”

The former infant queen was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle for complying in a plot to murder Elizabeth I. “I am to be executed like a criminal at eight in the morning,” she told Henry III, the King of France.

A photo of the handwritten final letter of mary, queen of scots written in 1587
© NLS
She signed it “your most loving and true sister, Mary R”.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are now working with the National Library of Scotland to see if the doomed letter can live forever by converting the text into short, DNA-style molecular sequences.

A photo of the handwritten final letter of mary, queen of scots written in 1587
© NLS
The team say such a system would be capable of storing the entire Harry Potter book series 20 trillion times within a single gram of DNA.


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